Al-Rayah Driving School/Facebook
For the first time, all of Qatar’s driving schools will be required to adhere to a unified set of rules and regulations, authorities have announced.
The move is aimed at ensuring quality training standards, amid longstanding complaints about the schools and bad driving across the country.
Included in the regulations are details about student rights and obligations, guidance on training fees and rules governing absences and withdrawals.
Al-Rayah Driving School/Facebook
Notably, a trainee who already carries a foreign driving license is allowed to attend only half the number of the sessions after obtaining permission from the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department.
The Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC), which issued the new rules, said it would conduct rigorous inspections to ensure compliance.
Schools that flout the consumer protection law face fines from QR6,000 to QR1 million riyals, as well as the possibility of closure.
In a statement, the MEC said all driving schools must now:
Train students by doing their best to help them get their driving licenses, even if that means changing instructors if the student requests it;
Provide trainers who can communicate in a language that the student understands;
Prohibit instructors from using mobile phones during sessions;
Allow an unmarried female student to be accompanied by a companion, in case the coach is a man; and
Provide a receipt to students following payment.
Additionally, instructors are prohibited from asking for any additional money after fees have been paid to the school.
If a problem arises, students also have the right to complain to the Traffic General Administration or Consumer Protection Administration at the MEC.
UAA Justice Center For Students
They can also turn to the courts to seek redress.
With regard to instructor rights, students must abide by the timings that have been mutually agreed upon with the school. Changes in timings are allowed only after submitting written requests to the school.
Additionally, the fees have to be paid in advance, depending on the particular course chosen.
If any student wishes to stop training after attending some classes, he has the right to get a refund, after a deduction of QR350 as administrative charges.
Notably, the government has not set tuition rates for driving schools, which appear to charge in the QR3,000 to QR4,000 range.
However, some schools add extra fees for female instructors because they are in short supply.
Additionally, there are VIP courses that can cost up to QR5,500, which comes with a package of customized theory classes and tailored practical classes.
Though it hasn’t mandated prices, the MEC has set the minimum number of classes students must take during each stage of their instruction, a spokesperson for Gulf Driving School (GDS) told Doha News.
The sessions, which last 45 minutes each, are:
Theory: A minimum of 12;
Inside the yard (for L test and parking): 15 classes; and
On-the-road: 40 classes.
Driving schools said they were first advised of the new rules in March.
Speaking to Doha News, GDS’s executive manager Mohammed Al Zain Ibrahim said the ministry has also now stipulated a white and yellow color for training cars (with the school name inscribed on the car).
Additionally, it’s outlined a dress code for instructors and made more lecture rooms mandatory.
The adoption of simulator training before students step into the yard to take their parking and L lessons is also now mandatory.
That’s why GDS has invested in four simulators, each costing QR150,000, he said.
The school has also employed instructors who speak Arabic, English, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, Tamil and Nepali.